The final chapter of the Skywalker Saga is here, does it meet expectations? For our spoiler free answer look below, if you want a full spoiler take on the film stay tuned to our YouTube Channel this weekend!
Belle: This was a beautiful movie from a purely aesthetic point of view. The acting is phenomenal and there are some truly powerful themes and emotional moments. However…
Armand: This film really doesn’t complete the narrative arc of the three main characters which is probably the single greatest thing wrong with it. In terms of visual spectacle? It is everything we expected from the concluding chapter of this trilogy. To give them credit the things we knew were coming, like Palpatine and the Star Destroyers, were brought in, in interesting ways. Unfortunately, the Kylo Ren stuff is problematic.
Belle: At best. He’s too wishy washy a character. Which is a waste because Adam Driver is phenomenal.
Armand: I do think that Leia’s fate was handled as best as it could possibly be done.
Armand: My fear was that they were going to tell a story where Leia was a non-factor.
Belle: Instead we got far more Leia than I honestly thought we would and she’s the key element in Rey, Finn, Poe and Kylo’s journeys. Her arc is perfect for her character.
Armand: Also, I loved Chewbacca in this film, his reactions to everything that happens are spot on. He was just genuinely heartbreaking and it was all done through physicality. I love that we don’t see a happy Chewie in this movie.
Belle: No, we don’t. Chewie was not about that life, his only mission is to keep Finn and Poe alive long enough to save everyone.
Belle: Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Adam Driver and Joonas Suotamo bring their a-games. Daisy Ridley has slotted very nicely into the Luke role, John Boyega has very much slotted into the Leia role.
Armand: Oh absolutely. Finn is the heart of this trilogy. If there were any doubt this movie puts it to rest with the way everywhere they go people are drawn to him. People want to follow him the way they wanted to follow Leia.
Belle: Exactly. Unfortunately Oscar Isaac did wonderful work, but I don’t know what is going with Poe right now. He’s a little too angry and shoot first ask questions later in this movie, and this is ground we already covered in the previous movie. His level of anger in this movie is very confusing.
Armand: Because there’s no clear vision of what he’s supposed to be doing. He’s serving the role of a replacement for Han. As Finn is not exactly Leia, Poe is not exactly Han but we never have space for him to be fully Poe with just enough Han in him the way we have with Finn.
Belle: Poe never finds that balance which is a shame, because the way it was originally set up Poe had dynamics of Han and Leia with a little bit of Luke. They all did with each of the three leaning more into one of the originals than the other. Rey and Finn have a lot of Luke in them but Finn trends more into Leia with his leadership and diplomacy and Rey is obviously the Luke. So, I think for this movie, all the actors did their best with what they were given but neither Kylo Ren nor Poe’s story arcs felt complete. Frankly no one, except for Finn, felt like their stories were complete.
Armand: Even Finn’s felt truncated.
Belle: Yeah, but at least with his we felt like we knew where it was going. His beats from previous movies make sense.
Armand: The chemistry between John Boyega and Oscar Isaac is so strong I have a hard time believing that those characters aren’t a couple. In fact there is a franchise out there that is just waiting for the two of them to do a movie together because the chemistry is so exceptional. They play off each other so well.
Belle: Every scene of them together is magical.
Armand: The thing that I’ve learned from Improv is giving other actors space, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen two actors give each other space so beautifully over, and over, and over again. Watching them together is like watching a symphony feeding off itself as the strongest players are all complementing each other.
Belle: Yes! Those two do that, but then, both of them are very good about doing that with whoever they’re in a scene with, they elevate everyone around them in a way that is very rare. It’s weird to me that Poe’s character arc is so truncated because in every scene Oscar Isaac gives so much.
As for Rey, Daisy Ridley is just an amazing actress unfortunately there’s a lot of issues with how Rey is in this trilogy overall and how, in the end, Rey felt like nothing more than a pawn in a long con. I have a problem with that.
Armand: I will say to that point, Rey is a great heroine, but I don’t think she got her hero’s journey. I’m frustrated that we got it with Luke and Anakin’s rise, fall and rise again, but as a fan of Rey’s I feel like we got cheated. I don’t have a problem with how she ended up, I do have a problem with how she got there. There are too few moments where everyone sees why she’s the hero in which we should believe. With the original trilogy we can see why the rebels rallied around Luke and Leia. Luke wasn’t just the guy who blew up the Death Star and Leia wasn’t just the diplomat who got the plans, we saw how they led from the front, especially in Empire and Return. Finn and Poe get that in all three films but Rey doesn’t. There’s a moment where people are congratulating her –
Belle: And it was Finn and Poe who did all the work!
Armand: – RIGHT! I was like, ‘Do these people even know who this girl is?’ We shouldn’t have to read supplementary material to know what she’s been doing, we should have seen it on screen.
Belle: Hell, everything Rey did in this movie put everyone, including herself, in far more danger. She was doing stuff to do it with no thought to it and I don’t know if that was for plot or character. That’s not saying she shouldn’t trust her instincts but we should’ve gotten from Rey the level of maturity that we had with Luke, and to a lesser extinct Anakin in Return and Revenge. The character who has shown the most growth organically in this series is Finn.
Armand: Which, to his credit, JJ Abrams cleaned up a lot of the mess that Rian Johnson left behind, especially in regards to Finn because you can tell he always had a clear vision for this character and his significance to the mythology of Star Wars that Rian Johnson clearly didn’t care about. He really brought it home. No, we didn’t get the big moments that we should have had with Finn but, to your point in terms of where he is at the end, Finn is the only one of the new trio who gets a complete hero’s journey in classical terms.
Belle: Honestly I feel like the only character who came out of this movie unscathed is Finn.
Armand: Rey at the end of this film is whole but she’s not whole long enough for me, as an audience member and fan, to be able to enjoy her wholeness and move forward. Luke Skywalker at the beginning of Return is where Rey is at the end of this and I feel like she deserved more.
In the end The Rise of Skywalker wraps up the Skywalker Saga nicely but leaves too much of Finn, Rey and Poe’s story untold, making it an unsatisfactory ending to this trilogy overall.
3.5 Temples out of 5
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is in Theaters December 20, 2019
Special Thanks to Allied for providing advanced screening tickets!